"All you can do is present yourself in the best possible way, and do you." ~ Erika Alexandra
San Francisco — Recently we have been regaled with a frenzy of spring 2012 fashions on the runway from New York to Paris. Whether you are drawn to watch the shows for the ever evolving looks that are featured or take park in the sometimes Circus like antics of designers such as Marc Jacobs and Betsey Johnson, there is an element to the festivities that keeps all eyes transfixed, in part to the stunning models that strut the catwalk, from Chanel Iman to Adrian Lima.
In homage to the lovely ladies that grace our coveted magazines and runways, I am taking a look behind the scenes of a model's life to get the digs on what it's really like in their glamour-gilded world. To launch the new A Model Life column, I have invited San Francisco-based model Erika Alexandra, who is also a contestant in the Miss California 2012 pageant, to be a guest blogger and share her model adventures. I caught up with Erika for an introductory Q&A to discuss her model life.
The Chic Spy: What motivated you to become a model?
Erika Alexandra: I wanted to model even when I was a little girl. I wanted to be a star. I wanted to be famous. But as I got older, I started to see the work involved and the potential to be a role model to inspire others to follow their dreams.
"Beauty is much more than physical; it's inspiring and emotional. If something or someone is beautiful, to me, it means it's moving to the soul."
TCS: What was your first modeling gig?
EA: My first modeling gig, if you can call it that, was a complete mess. It was a very unorganized, unpaid fashion show that noone showed up to, literally (laughs). There were more models than people in attendance. But in retrospect, it was a humbling experience because I can truly appreciate the work I get now.
TCS: Are you inspired by any supermodels?
EA: I'm inspired by many different models, but Tyra Banks has to be my number one. Not only did she make her place within the modeling industry, but she branched out to movies and television and created her own brand. She's an inspiration.
TCS: What is the most challenging aspect of being a model?
EA: The most challenging thing about being a model is, not knowing what a potential client wants. Everyone is different and looking for different qualities in a model, so you're never quite sure what they're looking for. Rejection is actually much easier to deal with than trying to read someone's mind. All you can do is present yourself in the best possible way, and do you.
TCS: What is one thing that most people would be surprised to know about a model's life?
EA: Most people may be surprised at how much work is involved with being a model. It isn't always glamorous. It takes time, dedication, and practice. My [model] coach, Charleston Pierce, says, "If you're not practicing everyday, if you're not working, you're not serious." A model is constantly a work in progress and always perfecting poses, walks, facial expressions, eating right, and keeping healthy – mentally and physically. It's competitive, so you always have to be up on your game.
TCS: Why did you decide to participate in the Miss California pageant?
EA: Miss California seemed like an ideal opportunity because it would allow me to reach out to the youth and inspire them to work hard and follow their dreams. It's about poise and being involved with something bigger than yourself.
TCS: Where do you see yourself in five years?
EA: In five years, I hope to be an established model and actress with a movie, national commercial, and multiple magazine covers under my belt. Yeah, that would be sweet!
TCS: When you are not modeling, how do you spend your time?
EA: When I'm not modeling, I'm in class, doing yoga or pilates, studying, enjoying some downtime, or practicing at Charleston's workshop. I also tutor middle and high school kids.
TCS: Who is your favorite designer?
EA: My favorite designers are Marc Jacobs and Michael Kors. Their designs are sophisticated and modern with a timeless feel.
TCS: How do you define beauty?
EA: Beauty is much more than physical; it's inspiring and emotional. If something or someone is beautiful, to me, it means it's moving to the soul.
TCS: What fashion item can you not live without?
EA: I cannot live without shoes! I love heels, boots, sneakers, sandals – pretty much everything, except Uggs (laughs). Shoes make or break an outfit. I especially love Jessica Simpson. She makes some cute and comfortable heels.
"I'm most inspired by strong women who take risks and aren't afraid to be themselves."
TCS: What’s playing on your mp3 player?
EA: I have a lot of Jill Scott, Drake, Goapele, Lauryn Hill, Etta James, and Donny Hathaway on my iPod. I like music with a cool beat that I can vibe to, but I did just download "The Wobble" (laughs). That song gets me going everytime.
TCS: Which woman most inspires you?
EA: I'm most inspired by strong women who take risks and aren't afraid to be themselves: Women like Maya Angelou, Ellen Degeneres, and Tyra Banks. It's an odd mix, but they're all inspiring in different ways.
TCS: What man most intrigues you?
EA: An intriguing man? Probably, George Clooney. He never seems to age, and that intrigues me.
TCS: Justin Timberlake or Justin Bieber?
EA: Definitely Justin Timberlake. N'Sync for Life!
TCS: If you had a Chic Spy code name, what would it be?
EA: My Chic Spy code name would be "E. A La Mode."
Stay tuned for more from Erika on her model life.
The Chic Spy
(Images courtesy of Erika Alexandra)